Bloggings of a Woo-Woo Leader

I've moved! You can find me at


Transitions are great.  They mean that new things are on the horizon.  They can also be challenging because…well…new things are on the horizon.  “New” can be glitchy.  I am trying something new: a different platform for my blog called Posterous (  It’s a super-cool service that I hope will open the creative possibilities.  I just need my old to merge with my new.


So, transitions, some time off, and the overall need to recharge have kept me away.  But I'll be getting back into full swing pretty soon with some new ideas, some new approaches, and a new commitment to "publishing."  It makes me smile to think about waiting until a new month begins, so I'll be more or less silent until the first full week in July. 


Out with the old, through the transition, and in with the new.  Here's hoping it all comes together! 

Posted via email from Musings of a Woo Woo Leader

Of MBA's and Summer Classes
My wife and I got our MBA's together.  My wife graduated with honors.  I missed it by one class.  I think it was our second: Finance.  At the time, I just had this...THING...with numbers.  I knew I wasn't going to get an "A," so I didn't.  The funny thing is that I don't think the grade I got in any other class had anything to do with what I got out of the class.  

Several years prior, when I was still an undergrad, I was dating this really attractive, really cute, really interesting girl.  She stayed at school all summer, so, naturally, I decided to stay back, too.  I had an apartment, after all, and the lease I signed was for twelve months.  Why not stay for the summer?  I had a car.  I had a crib.  I had a lady.  What else is there when you're twenty one years old?

Let's try money.  Discretionary cash.  Spending money.  For the lady.

I got a job.  I worked at Best Buy.  I worked in the music department.  When I was in middle school, I had a column in the school newspaper: Rockin' Ricky's Turntable Times.  Seriously, that's what I called it.  I did music reviews.  I wrote exactly two of them.  The paper only came out twice the year I had the column.  I used to save up my money all year long for our trips back to the US; we were living in Mexico at the time.  I think all my friend knew that I would come home with a stack of LP's and 45's after every trip back, so I sort of became known as the music guy.  I remember once in high school, when "She Drives Me Crazy" by Fine Young Cannibals came out, I stayed up until 2:00 in the morning just so I could record the song on some obscure radio show.  Tony wanted it, so I went above and beyond to deliver.  He didn't ask; I just did it.  I loved music THAT much.  Working in the music department at Best Buy was a big deal to me.

To recap, I had a car, a crib, and a lady.  I had a job listening to music at Best Buy.  My parents were financing my living arrangements.  Life was good.  So as to not be a total mooch, I decided to show my parents that I was REALLY responsible and take a class during the summer.  MY summer.  I was THAT magnanimous.

That summer, I took a 200-level class that wound up changing my life.  It turned out to be the most important business class I've ever taken, bar none.  Well, there was a technology-related class that I took during my MBA in which I was able to convince the professor that seeing "Star Wars Episode I: The Phantom Menace" had to do with business and technology because the extensive use of computer graphics would change the movie industry forever.  I was right.  I should have demanded extra credit to off-set that "B" in Finance.  Anyway, that summer I took a Psych class.  Specifically, I took "Child Psychology and Development."  It changed my life forever.  I still use the things I learned in that class and the list of other classes that I took as a result.  The one Psych class introduced me to the Department of Human Development and Family Studies.  I racked up enough hours in HDFS to get a minor...too bad they didn't offer one.  Regardless, those classes opened my eyes to fields of studies I'd never known existed.  Those classes became the foundation for my adult outlook on life, the Universe, and all the stuff in between.  That includes leadership.

Anyone who knows my wife shouldn't be surprised that she graduated from our MBA program with honors.  Anyone who knows me shouldn't be surprised that I didn't.  The point of the story, though, isn't to confirm what some people already know about my wife's and my personality.  One of the points of the story is that a grade isn't going to tell you shit about what you've learned.  I didn't get an "A" in the Child Psych class, but I learned more in that summer session that I could have ever dreamed possible.  The other point of the story is that you'll never know how one simple choice, like the choice to hang out with that cute girl on campus that summer, might have lasting reverberations for the rest of your life.  You see, not only did that class change my life,  I married that cute girl.  

Escape and Words from Kenny Rogers
You cannot escape who you are.  No matter where you run or where you hide, even if you smash the mirror and refuse to see your reflection, you cannot escape who you are.

This is why leaving and never coming to terms with the cause will ultimately lead to repeated failures.  Failure, after all, is never learning from mistakes of the past.  If you remain purposely blind to the mistakes and do not embrace them, then you are not giving them the opportunity to teach their lessons.

So, if you can accept that running is not an option, that you are, indeed, who you are and not who you wish that you were, then you can begin to transform who you are into who you believe you can be.  Circular?  Not at all.  Once again, we find ourselves confronted with choices.  

The other day on TV, I heard Kenny Rogers say, "We are all three people: who I believe I am, who you believe I am, and who I really am."  Then he went on to say, "The closer together those three are, the more successful you will be."

Amen, Kenny.  Amen.

40 Years and Counting...
This evening I shared space, air, food, drink, and a dream with a couple of people I'd never met.  A dream they had over 40 years ago still lives today.  I know because I am a benefactor of that dream.  I know because I am living their dream.

Over 40 years ago, 7 families dreamed about opening a school in order to provide a different kind of education for their children.  It was a crazy, crazy dream.  They went for it anyway.  They went for it, and they made it happen.  Their did what they had to in order to translate dream into reality.  And they were successful.  Today, my kids attend that school.  Tonight, we celebrated the organic evolution of that dream as the school opened a second building on campus.  

"Tonight, I can see that the torch has been passed," she said.  She was a member of one of those 7 founding families.  There were others present from that original group.  What a legacy.  Imagine being able to pass a torch over 40 years from now.  Just imagine.

The difference between those 7 families and the majority of us is that they had the courage to do more than just imagine.  They had the courage to pursue that crazy dream.  How many times have you dreamed an impossible dream only to brush it off?  Impossible dreams are just that: impossible.  They are flights of fancy.  They are childish.  They are irresponsible.  They are pointless.  Impossible dreams...why bother?

Bother...because 40 years from now hundreds of kids could benefit from your dream.  Hundreds of lives could be changed for the better.  Changed?  How about transformed?  How about elevated beyond what they could have only dreamed of prior to you and your dream?  Or maybe the mere fact that you had the courage to try might be enough to inspire another generation of dreamers...

Now, go.  Start.  Light that torch.   It's not too late.  I don't care how old you are.  40 years from now, something you ignited could be burning brightly...

So Long, Teacher!
 Today, a teacher retired.  

I don't know how long she was a teacher, but she's been a teacher ever since I've known her.  English was her specialty.  When I wrote a letter announcing to the world that I'd met the woman of my dreams and had asked her to marry me, my wife read over it and frowned.  "You have to correct some grammar mistakes.  My mom's an English teacher."

Apparently, you have to put your best grammatical foot forward when you've become engaged to an English teacher's daughter.

I thought the whole thing was cute.  Over the years that followed, teaching has consumed her life.  And teaching isn't one of those easy professions.  You know, the kind that leave allow room for goofing around if you're feeling a little lazy one day.  Or the kind that let you shift gears as you please just so long as you deliver on time and under budget.  No, teaching is pretty unforgiving.  And, as my mother-in-law puts it, a teacher gets "9 months to do 12 months of work."  I never thought about it that way, but it makes sense.  For much of the time I've known her, life is defined by short periods of no papers to grade over the weekend.  That's a teacher's definition of vacation.

Tonight we celebrated her retirement.  Tonight I thought about Mr. Lapadat and Ms. Dominguez, my two favorite language teachers.  I thought about Mrs. Juliano and Mrs. Goldschmeid, two of the women who taught me to love my own art.  I thought about Dr. B (the Mrs.) and Mr. McCabe, two English teachers who helped me understand the power of the written (and read) word.  I thought about Mark Kelty who opened my eyes to all kinds of crazy political and historical shit, sparking a love of the human social sciences that led to my major in college.  I thought about other teachers, too: Mrs. French, Mrs. Del Valle, Ms. many others.  There are faces I recall but names I don't, and the names I do recall may not be spelled correctly.  Regardless, tonight I think about and thank all of the teachers who touched my life and made me a richer human being all because they cared enough to expend energy towards my education.  I was a royal pain in the ass to so many of you.  My children will honor their teachers.  My children will understand the value of educators and mentors, and they will love and respect them and their great profession.

I celebrated one very specific teacher tonight.  But, left with the echoes of that celebration, I think about and send much compassionate love to every teacher out there.  If you are doing your best to educate our children, then I humbly offer you my deepest respect and my most heartfelt thanks.

So long, teacher!

Maria and Leadership

I find a good deal of wisdom in the insights that Maria Montessori gained during her time on Earth through the work she did with special needs children first, then in general education.  I once told my wise and compassionate friends John and Kim that “everything I learned about leadership I learned from my kids.”  OK, maybe not everything, but the statement still holds water.


These are two of my favorite Maria Montessori quotes.  I think I’ve shared each before in one venue or another, but I think they look particularly brilliant together.  At least that’s what I think.


"The teacher, when she begins work in our schools, must have a kind of faith that the child will reveal himself through work. She must free herself from all preconceived ideas concerning the levels at which the children may be."

--Maria Montessori, "The Absorbent Mind"


“As soon as independence has been reached, the adult who keeps on helping becomes an obstacle.”

            --Maria Montessori, "The Absorbent Mind"


I think both apply to leadership, too, with a few minor word substitutions. 

At some point, every adult must allow the relationship with a child to evolve into a relationship between adults.  This is true of leadership, too.  As long as the leader maintains a parent-child relationship with those they lead, the full potential of the individual will never be revealed.  The leader, in that case, becomes the obstacle.

The Dialectical Method
Plato wrote about Socrates.  Socrates never wrote anything that can be directly attributed to him.  So, it's a leap of faith, I suppose, for a layman like me to believe that Socrates ever existed at all.  We've only got Plato's word.  You have to decide whether or not that's good enough for yourself.

Socrates said something that I really like...well, at least Plato said that Socrates said it.  I've referenced it before:

"The unexamined life is not worth living."

That can mean a lot of things to a lot of people, but to Socrates, it meant that you had to question everything because questioning is the only way to come to some semblance of the truth.  Regardless of where one believe truth comes from, truth is not something that someone can right down in a book and hand to you.  That's not how you come to know it.  Socrates insisted that truth could only be understood within the context of a life of questions and answers.

So, please don't get pissed off at me when I challenge the direction in which the rest of the sheep in the flock are headed.  I just want to know if the path leads to some succulent pasture or to the slaughterhouse floor.  Not only is the unexamined life not worth living, if you don't examine where you're going, you might not have much of a life left to live.

Consciously Conscious of Today's Unconsciousness
I am ashamed to admit it, but I pretty much just glided through today like a little fuzzy round thing floating down one of those big sewer pipes you always see in the movies.  I try not to do that very often.  It's plain wasteful, in my opinion.  And since we're talking about my life, I think my opinion is really the opinion to which I will pay the most attention.  I'm not trying to be an ass or anything, know.  It's my blog, my life, so I have some clout around these parts.

Anyway, so I was pretty unconscious today save for a few meaningful conversations.  I think that took up about 2 hours of my life.  The rest...lots of fluff.  Now, it doesn't mean I didn't DO anything today or even that I wasn't productive at work.  I sounds weird, but you can certainly complete tasks without really accomplishing anything on The Master List of Crucial Stuff.  That's where I sort of fell short.  

So, the triumph today...and, yes, there was a that I can sit here now and acknowledge the unconsciousness of the day.  You see, a tragedy would be living unconsciously and not being able to...irony...become conscious of the unconsciousness.  And the sooner that consciousness comes, the less damaging the unconsciousness.  I know, I know.  This all sounds very circular.  It sort of it.  The point, though, is that I feel like I am in uncharted territory here.  I have never been this self-aware this often.  It's really a remarkable feeling.  

I don't know.  Maybe I'm the only one who lived unconsciously.  Maybe everyone else had a much more heightened state of awareness than I did, and I've finally caught up to the rest of the gang.  That's totally possible.  Regardless, I am grateful beyond words for the ever-evolving, ever-progressing path to enlightenment upon which I wander.  Sometimes, I'm on it...the path, that is.  At other times, I am not so much on it.  I am just happy to be able to tell the difference and correct my course.

 Summer is on its way in.  There is no doubt about that.  While the temperature may not be soaring in the 90's, the feel is definitely in the air.

It never ceases to amaze me how absolutely beautiful our planet Earth is.  She brings me to tears as quickly and as easily as she puts a smile on my face.  She fills my heart with joy and love.  I have no choice but to be in awe of her.

Something as simple as driving home, as mundane as traversing the same bridge I do every day, can instantly become a transformative experience if I simply stop and behold what my beloved Mother Nature has to show me.  She is everywhere.  She is always.  She is exquisite.  

My wife is exquisite, case you were wondering.

They are both breathtaking, my wife and my planet.  And they are never more beautiful than when I seize the moment to admire them.  It's really that simple.

"T" is for "Tribe"
Because I am convinced that Seth Godin and Dan Pink either share a consciousness or, possibly, are actually SOMEHOW ACQUAINTED, I continue to obsessively contemplate how to merge many of the lessons of "Drive" with those of "Linchpin." In my obsessive contemplation, I neglected to consider the book that first drew me to Seth's writing: "Tribes."

A few days ago, on the way back from a stroll to the water fountain, the phrase "'T' is for 'Tribe'" popped into my head. Then I sketched something. I don't have a scanner near me, so I opened MS Paint, that most rudimentary computer-aided-drawing tool, and created a crude visual of what I was thinking.  "Visual" and "thinking" belong together, if you ask me, and I am a very visual thinker.

It occurred to me that Pink's "Four T's" over which people seek mastery are really the essence, the soul, of a Godin-esque Tribe.  In Pink's model, the T's are: time, task, technique, and team.  Time is representative of the time frame within which people do the work.  Task is representative of the actual step or steps behind doing the work.  Technique is how one goes about doing the work, the style and methodology for getting things done.  And team is representative of the people with whom we choose to work.

I thought about the T's in terms of a Mega Corp like the one in which I labor. In the typical Mega Corp, the average worker bee is denied mastery over team and task. Often, technique is controlled. Time probably comes in fourth. The point is that the longing for matery over the Four T's is palpable. So, what happens when you quietly and discreetly grant people mastery over their own Four T's?

They become AWESOME.

At least, that is my's more than that  Granting mastery over the Four T's is my mission as a leader. I inspire and influence so that other can be innovative. And I do that by granting them mastery over the Four T's. I just didn't have a name for it.  Until now.

So, "T" is for "Tribe" because the Four T's are the soul of any Tribe.


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